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The Erasmus Mentor Programme at the University of Copenhagen is a good opportunity for international students to meet get to know the city and ask all their initial questions. However, it is not just a tourist information service. Partcipants also feel more welcome and get to know the Danes on a personal level
New Erasmus students at the University of Copenhagen have the possibility of being assigned a Danish student as their mentor.
The mentor programme is beneficial for both mentor and mentee. International students get to fulfil an often-expressed wish to mingle with the Danes, and the Danish mentor participates in a cultural exchange.
Sometimes, for international students staying for just one or two semesters, it is easier to socialise with other foreign students than with Danes. They are all in the same postion and therefore tend to flock together.
In addition, Danes have a reputation of being quite reserved and, at first, they may seem difficult to get into contact with.
However, if Erasmus students actively show an interest in getting to know the Danish culture, Danes often prove more than willing to help.
The Mentor Programme helps to break the ice and overcome the hurdle of making contact in the first place.
Mentors give students guidance on all of their initial questions when arriving at Copenhagen.
When you are new in a place it is extremely useful to have a person to contact with and who can orientate you about the university, housing, buying a bicycle, places to go out and so on.
»The kind reception of my mentor during the first days, gave me a positive first impression of Danish people,« ays Evangelos Lalos, an international student from Greece.
The Mentor Programme is more than just an extended tourist information service. Social contact is at the heart of the concept.
Jeanne Svalebech, a mentor of the Faculty of Humanities, experienced this with her mentee:
»I started giving her a hand as a mentor, but lately our relation turned into a friendship«.
Mentors and mentees are also invited to participate in a range of social events, where they can easily meet people, have fun and get to know a little more about ‘the real’ Denmark.
Danish students who participate in the programme also benefit from the exchange.
The most common motivation to apply for the programme is the cultural exchange that it offers both to Danes and Erasmus students.
However, there are other reasons. For instance, some of the mentors have themselves been exchange students in another country.
For this reason, they perfectly understand their situation and the possible problems an international student might face. They want to do their bit.
»I would have enjoyed having a mentor in Spain who had shown me the new city and had helped me out with different things,« states Jeanne.
Moreover, Jeanne thought it would be a great opportunity to practice her Spanish since her mentee was from Spain.